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Bible Commentaries
Mark 8

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

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Verses 1-9

See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 15:32-39.

Mark 8:1

In those days - While in the wilderness, where he had cured the deaf-mute man.

Having nothing to eat - Having come unprovided, or having consumed what they had brought.

Mark 8:2

I have compassions - I pity their condition. I am disposed to relieve them.

Mark 8:9

Four thousand - Four thousand “men,” besides women and children. See Matthew 15:38. See this passage explained in the notes at Matthew 15:32-39.

Verse 10

Dalmanutha - In Matthew 15:39 it is said that he came into the coasts of “Magdala.” See the note on the place.

Verses 11-21

See this passage explained in Matthew 16:1-12.

Mark 8:12

Sighed deeply in his spirit - His heart was deeply affected at their wickedness and hypocrisy. The word “spirit” here is taken as the seat of the emotions, passions, affections. He drew groans deeply from his breast.

No sign be given - That is, no such sign as they asked, to wit, a sign “from heaven.” He said a sign should be given, the same as was furnished by Jonas, Matthew 16:4. But this was not what they “asked,” nor would it be given “because” they asked it.

Mark 8:15

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees - See Matthew 16:6.

Of Herod - Of the Herodians - of Herod and his followers. Matthew, instead of “Herod,” has “the Sadducees.” It is not improbably that he cautioned them against them all. The Pharisees sought his life, and were exceedingly corrupt in their doctrine and practice; the Sadducees denied some of the essential doctrines of religion, and the Herodians probably were distinguished for irreligion, sensuality, and corrupt living. They were united, therefore, with the Pharisees and Sadducees in opposing the claims of Jesus. Matthew has recorded his caution to avoid the Pharisees and Sadducees, and Mark has added, what Matthew had omitted. the caution likewise to beware of the Herodians. Thus, the evangelists speak the same thing.

Verse 22

To Bethsaida - See the notes at Matthew 11:21.

And they bring a blind man unto him - The healing of the blind man of Bethsaida is recorded only by Mark.

Besought him to touch him - That is, to heal him, for they believed that his touch would restore his sight.

Verse 23

Led him out of the town - Why this was done the sacred writers have not told us. It might have been to avoid the collecting of a multitude, and thus to have escaped the designs of the Pharisees who were attempting to take his life, and chiefly on a charge of sedition and of exciting the people. On this account Jesus chose to perform the miracle alone, thus showing that while he did good, he desired to do it in such a way as to avoid the “appearance” of evil, and to prevent, at the same time, ostentation and the malice of his enemies.

Spit on his eyes - Why this was done is not known. It was evidently not intended to perform the cure by any natural effect of the spittle. It was to the man a “sign,” an evidence that it was the power of Jesus. The eyes were probably closed. They were perhaps “gummed” or united together by a secretion that had become hard. To apply spittle to them - to wet them - would be a “sign,” a natural expression of removing the obstruction and opening them. The power was not in the spittle, but it attended the application of it.

Saw aught - Saw anything.

Verse 24

I see men, as trees, walking - I see men walking, but see them so indistinctly that, but for their “motion,” I could not distinguish them from trees. I cannot distinctly see their shapes and features. Probably our Lord did not “at once” restore him fully to sight, that he might strengthen his faith. Seeing that Jesus had partially restored him, it was evidence that he could “wholly,” and it led him to exercise faith anew in him, and to feel more strikingly his dependence on him.

Verse 25

Every man clearly - Could see their form and features. His sight was completely restored. Though our Lord did not by this, probably, “intend” to teach any lesson in regard to the way in which the mind of a sinner is enlightened, yet it affords a striking illustration of it. Sinners are by nature blind, 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 2:11; John 9:39. The effect of religion, or of the influence of the Holy Spirit, is to open the eyes, to show the sinner his condition and his danger, and to lead him to “look” on him as a Saviour. Yet at first he sees indistinctly. He does not soon learn to distinguish objects. When converted he is in a new world. Light is shed on every object, and he sees the Scriptures, the Saviour, and the works of creation, the sun, the stars, the hills, the vales, in a new light. He sees the beauty of the plan of salvation, and wonders that he has not seen it before. Yet he sees at first indistinctly. It is only by repeated applications to the Source of light that he sees all things clearly. At first religion appears full of mysteries. Doctrines and facts are brought before his mind that he cannot fully comprehend. He is still perplexed, and he may doubt whether he has ever seen anything aright, or has been ever renewed. Yet let him not despair. Light, in due time, will be shed on these obscure and mysterious truths. Faithful and repeated application to the Father of lights in prayer, and in searching the Scriptures, and in the ordinances of religion, will dissipate these doubts, and he will see all things clearly, and the universe will appear to be filled with one broad flood of light.

Verse 26

The town - The town of Bethsaida.

Nor tell it ... - Lest it excite the jealousy of the Pharisees, and produce commotion and danger.

Verses 27-38

See this passage illustrated in the notes at Matthew 16:13-28.

Mark 8:32

He spake that saying openly - With boldness or confidence, or without parables or figures, so that there could be no possibility of misunderstanding him.

Mark 8:38

Ashamed of me - Ashamed to own attachment to me on account of my lowly appearance and my poverty.

And of my words - My doctrines, my instructions.

This adulterous and sinful generation - This age given to wickedness, particularly to adultery.

In the glory of his Father - In the day of judgment. See the notes at Matthew 26:64. The meaning of this verse is, Whosoever shall refuse, through pride or wickedness, to acknowledge and serve Christ here, shall be excluded from his kingdom hereafter. He was lowly, meek, and despised; yet there was an inimitable beauty in his character even then. But he will come again in awful grandeur; not as the babe of Bethlehem, not as the man of Nazareth, but as the Son of God, in majesty and glory. They that would not acknowledge him here must be rejected by him there; they that would not serve him on earth will not enjoy his favor in heaven; they that would cast Him out and despise him must be cast out by him, and consigned to eternal, hopeless sorrow.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Mark 8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/mark-8.html. 1870.
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